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My Nouveau Traditional SAHM Lifestyle vs. Amanda Marcotte's Exploding Head

Thursday, October 13, 2011 8:00 AM Comments (117)

Amanda Marcotte is utterly fed up with “empty feel-good words and delusions about gender norms.”

My advice to Marcotte:  stay away from mirrors.

She recently flipped out over a study indicating that women increasingly long for “a more traditional lifestyle.”

The study does seem, frankly, a little bit lame.  But what fascinates me are Marcotte’s objections, which are uniformly and outrageously sexist.  Here we go:

Marcotte’s sexist objection #1:

[T]he survey found that 66 percent of mothers would rather be a stay-at-home mother than a working parent . . . But the same survey found that 36 percent of men also said they wanted to stay at home . . . It appears what this survey is measuring isn’t some widespread desire to find fulfillment through homemaking so much as a widespread desire to not have to work for a living.

An actual stay-at-home mom’s answer #1:

Well, duh.  Work is a drag.

But wait.  66% of women vs. 36% of men?  Nearly twice as many mothers as fathers wish they could stay at home?  So either women are nearly twice as lazy as men, or else they have double the desire to be home with their children.  Go ahead and pick the explanation you like better, Amanda.  We’ll wait.

Sexist objection #2:

f you suggested that I could spend my life baking cookies without nary [sic] a worry of money again, I’d probably indulge that fantasy [of staying at home] for a minute, too. I’d bet a question that brought more of the realities of housewifery into view—-stay-at-home mothers are more than twice as likely to live in poverty—-would produce many times less enthusiasm.

SAHM answer #2:

Right, because your typical feather-brained female has no idea that if she quits her job, she’ll have less spending money.  Oh, those ladies and their dimwitted ideas about finances, am I right, am I right?

Sexist objection #3:

Women [should be] reminded that a single-breadwinner home means having to ask your spouse for any and all money that you spend.

SAHM answer #3:

This was very true in my household.  For about the first ten minutes of our marriage.  Then we realized that my husband is horrible with money, and I’ve been handling our finances ever since.  And no, he doesn’t have to “ask for any and all money that he spends”—we discuss non-routine expenditures together, because our marriage is a joint effort, not some kind of grisly, decades-long power struggle.

Sexist objection #4:

I also have to quarrel with this: “Moms reported that the ‘breakdown of the traditional family’ was the second most serious issue facing children today, right after drug abuse” . . . [but] in reality the most pressing problem probably facing children today is poverty.

SAHM answer #4:

“In reality?”  How so?  Because the childless, unmarried Marcotte understands the needs of children better than actual mothers? My traditional family lives well below the poverty line.  Shh, don’t tell my kids!  They think they’re having a happy childhood.

Marcotte’s entire quibble with the study comes from what we will charitably call a misunderstanding:  she believes that women who want to stay at home are naive and timid, too bubble-headed to face or comprehend the harsh realities of adult living.  She doesn’t trust women to make sensible choices about what they need.

In short, she is a sexist.

She scoffs at the study’s suggestion that there is “enthusiasm for ‘50s-era living.”  Well, so do I.  I’ve been hobnobbing with conservative women all my life, and I’ve met exactly one who pines for the 50’s. The rest of us adore 21st-century womanhood, which includes husbands who change diapers and wives who leave the house without a girdle.  It includes female doctors who support every birthing style, from crunchy to super-medicated.  It includes the teachings of John Paul II who said that men should learn to bring their wives to orgasm.  It includes women who are paid and respected for their opinions about politics and culture.  And it includes my husband, who is physically and emotionally strong, who takes seriously his role as provider and protector, and who treats me as an intellectual equal.

Now,  some stay-at-home moms are overworked and oppressed, or retreat to the home because they’re slow-witted or unambitious.  But some moms who work outside the home are overworked and oppressed, or flee to the office because they’re slow-witted or unambitious.  And some working moms and happy and contented, doing valuable work.  And some stay-at-home moms are happy and contented, doing valuable work.  Some moms wish they could leave the home, and some working women wish they could stay at home.

Why do some of these facts seem self-evident to Amanda Marcotte, while others make her head explode?  I love my nouveau traditional stay-at-home life.  When I say that I want to stay at home with my kids, I mean that I want the best from the past and the best from the present.  But sexist throwbacks like Marcotte aren’t ready to hear such progressive ideas.

I read the writing of liberal women to find out what they really think.  Imagine if Marcotte returned the favor, instead of retreating brainlessly to her sexist stereotyping.  Trust women, Amanda!  We—even those of us who have made choices different from your own—can figure this out all on our own.

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and nine children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.